Monday 24 April 2017
To: Labour Party NEC
Parliamentary candidate for Leigh
I understand that the NEC will this week consider applications to succeed me as Labour's candidate for Leigh.
Given that I know this constituency better than anyone else, I wanted to make my advice to the Party clear so that the right decision can be made.
I am in no doubt that Leigh needs a Labour candidate with strong local credentials and that the best person to succeed me is Councillor Joanne Platt.
Jo is well-known and well-liked across the Leigh area. She is an excellent campaigner and has been the driving force behind the reinvigoration of Leigh Labour Party in recent years. As agent at the last General Election, Jo led a strong campaign which resulted in a significant increase in both our majority and share of the vote.
Jo also has a track record of delivering improvements to services in our borough. Earlier this year, Wigan became one of a handful of councils in the North West to achieve a rating of 'good' for its children's services. Parts of the service were judged outstanding. As Wigan Council's Cabinet lead, Jo can take a lot of credit for this success.
We are lucky in Leigh to have a candidate of Jo's calibre who is ready to step up and build on Labour's achievements here. I also believe that, as we approach the milestone of 100 years of Labour in Leigh, it would be wonderful to see Leigh elect its first woman MP. As a local woman, Jo would be a great role model and inspiration to young women and girls in our area.
Were the Party to opt for a candidate with no local ties, I have to make clear that this would not be supported by the vast majority of our members and would go down very badly with the Leigh public. This would run the risk of losing significant support at the Election and it is why it is my strong advice that this course should not be followed.
As Secretary to the NEC, I would be grateful if you could circulate this email to those officers and members considering the Leigh selection. I stand ready to provide any further advice to them if that would be helpful.
THE RT HON ANDY BURNHAM MP